Steen falls short in MP bid
As former Winnipeg Jets go, Thomas Steen is way, way up there in terms of notoriety. He put up the second most points in franchise history (817) and is the only Swedish player to have his number retired.
Given his popularity in the city, even all these years later, a career in politics makes sense.
The former Jets captain ran for the Conservative Party in yesterday's federal election in the Winnipeg riding of Elmwood-Transcona, and despite being a huge underdog to veteran Manitoba politician Jim Maloway, came within 1,702 votes of the NDP candidate.
Not bad for an upstart rookie.
Steen had made his case for election on his personal website, which is long on hockey references and short on political platforms:
For many years I have called Winnipeg my home. I first moved here in 1981 to play hockey for the Winnipeg Jets. It was an honour to represent an organization where you could feel the community support simply by walking down the street. During my fourteen seasons with the team I had the privilege of serving as team captain, a role that will serve me well as I attempt to make the transition to political office.The riding was considered an NDP stronghold, held by Bill Blaikie since 1979, and the Tories had apparently been asking Steen to use his star power to try and win the seat for quite some time.
Following my hockey career I chose to remain in Winnipeg and become a Canadian citizen.
Steen's son Alex, a member of the Maple Leafs, offered his support on the weekend. Sort of:
"I'm not too involved in it, but obviously, I support him as a son."Steen had the support of a few other former Jets on the campaign trail, with Bobby Hull and Dale Hawerchuk lending their names to the cause. Steen had been a pro scout with the Coyotes until resigning to try his hand at politics.
His performance at the polls is a pretty strong testament to the pro-Jets feelings still out there given his obvious shortcomings on the campaign trail:
Then there's Steen, who only answered questions when he had a tabbed page in his briefing binder he could flip to for a pre-written answer. When he didn't have one, he either declined to speak or apologized with an "I'm new at this." He read virtually every word he uttered, with a bemused and gentle smile.Hey, it's worked elsewhere.
He is by all accounts and appearances a lovely and honourable gentleman — he made a bee line for Maloway after the debate to shake his hand. But he is radically out of his depth, muzzled by his party and unfamiliar with the issues.
Hockey and politics go hand in hand in Canada, and I'm actually surprised this doesn't happen more often. Doug Gilmour or Wendel Clark would be shoo-ins in Toronto-area ridings, as would someone like Trevor Linden in Vancouver or Lanny McDonald in Calgary.
At least there'll always be Ken Dryden.